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Sulfur Burps – Remedy, Causes

Updated on November 21, 2015

All of us know that burps are oral release of gas. When such burps have a foul odor like rotten eggs then they are referred to as sulfur burps. It is often a symptom of some underlying disease. Chronic sulfur burps are mostly related to increased hydrogen sulfide gas production in the intestines.

One of the main causes of sulfur burps is excess intake of protein-rich foods, like meats, etc. Intestinal bacteria breakdown and metabolize the protein present in meats during digestion and release hydrogen sulfide in the process. The hydrogen sulfide then gets removed from the body as sulfur burps. It can be said that increased meat consumption means increased sulfur burps as they are directly proportional to each other.

Stomach enzymes also play a part in processing animal proteins. Hence, during times of stomach enzyme deficiencies protein metabolism is done entirely by intestinal bacteria. This leads to increased hydrogen sulfide production, excessive sulfur burps, and the occasional episodes of stinky flatulence.

Sulfur burps can affect everyone, but pregnant women are more prone to it. This is because of the slowdown of digestive processes during pregnancy. Occurrence of sulfur burps along with additional symptoms like nausea, vomiting, etc. needs to be checked by a doctor as it can be due to varied gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, etc.

Causes of sulfur burps

Sulfur burps may be commonly caused due to the below listed underlying conditions:

  • Gastrointestinal diseases: Sulfur burps may be cause due to pre-existing gastrointestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease, IBS, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, pancreatitis, and heartburn, etc.The conditions may be accompanied by additional symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, constipation, and discomfort in abdominal region, etc.
    • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO can also cause smelly sulfur burps. A delicate balance of good bacteria is maintained in the digestive system. Sometimes, this balance may be broken due to overgrowth of the bacteria. This often occurs in people with celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. Bacterial overgrowth can eventually result in foul burps.
    • Gastroparesis: Slowdown in the normal rate of food passage from the stomach to the intestines is known as gastroparesis. It may occur due to varied causes. The delay or slower rate means that larger amounts of food remains in the stomach for longer durations, thereby causing abnormal reactions and sulfur burps.
    • Infections of the gastrointestinal tract: Infection of the stomach lining by H. pylori bacteria can harm it can cause ulcers. Ulcer formation often triggers sulfur burps and hence sulfur burps are also called ulcer burps. The stomach wall or intestinal tract can also be infected by the parasite giardia, thereby causing giardiasis. The infection can trigger serious stomach abnormalities. Both types of infections can occur due to drinking contaminated water, poor personal hygiene, and/or oral/fecal method of transmission.
    • Allergies to certain foods: An allergic reaction to the intake of certain foods can also cause terrible smelling sulfur burps. Thus, if dairy products are eaten by people with lactose intolerance then they will experience sulfur burps all day long, particularly after excess intake of dairy foods.
    • The diet: The diet is one of the most common causes of sulfur burps. Intake of protein and sulfur-rich foods, especially in large amounts, often results in putrid sulfur burps. A few such foods include eggs, red meat, dairy items, chicken and poultry products, bananas, legumes, spinach, watermelon, asparagus, avocados, onions, broccoli, sweet potato, and cauliflower.
      • Eating protein-rich four course meals increases the risk to suffering from sulfur burps. Overeating is not really useful as excess food just tends to stay in the stomach and rot there. This then triggers increased production of gas which gets released orally, thereby causing bad breath.
      • Medicines: Long term intake of sulfa drugs or medications with sulfur, such as antibiotics, can also result in sulfur burps with a strong foul odor. Sulfur is listed as an ingredient in the label of such medications. When you consume such drugs, then the chances of sulfur burps are increased.

Treatment of sulfur burps

Minor cases of sulfur burps can be treated with diet changes and home remedies, while those caused due to severe underlying conditions may require medical treatment.

Home remedies

  • Drinking herbal tea after eating can lower the chances of sulfur burps.
  • Mix honey and lemon into a glass of warm water and drink every day.
  • Limit or abstain from protein-abundant foods; alcohol and alcoholic beverages; tea, coffee, and caffeinated beverages; carbonated drinks; sugary foods like cakes, chocolates, pastries, etc.; eggs and other poultry products; dairy products, red meat, and ready-to-cook or canned foods; and peas, garlic, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, whey protein, asparagus, soy, beans, coconuts,cabbage, bananas, sweet potatoes,and cashew nuts
  • Digestive issues are one of the main causes of sulfur burps. Drink lots of water and other liquids to promote and maintain the digestive system health, thereby lowering the risk to smelly burps.

Medications

  • Doctors may prescribe Pepto-Bismol tablets that help eliminate hydrogen sulfide; antacids to lower acidity; and other drugs to reduce stomach acid production.
  • Consult the doctor for alternative medications if current ones are causing sulfur burps.
  • SIBO/Bacterial overgrowth is treated with antibiotics. Other gastrointestinal conditions are treated as per standard treatment procedures.

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